This Entrepreneur Landed in KC and Fell in Love with the Friendly Midwest
Feeling Nostalgic: The Interesting Story Behind MEDiAHEAD’s Start in Kansas City.
By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD.
Most people are not aware of how we got our start in Kansas City.
I was a print salesperson for two very large web printing companies in the 1980’s. And I split my time between Dallas and New York City, flipping cities every Saturday and traveling several other days a week.
I got married when I was 30, and this didn’t put an end to my traveling – but giving birth in 1989 certainly changed my priorities.
Starting a Printing Company
We knew we wanted to start a printing company, but we weren’t sure where. Since I had grown up in South Florida and lived in Dallas and NYC, I had no intention of moving to Kansas or even visiting Kansas City. My husband was from the Midwest and had been to several of the basketball tournaments, so he was familiar with KC.
After an exhaustive search all over the country, my husband convinced me to visit Kansas City over a weekend.
No one was more shocked than I was, that I immediately fell in love with Kansas City and wanted to move here. The friendly Midwesterners, the beautiful neighborhoods, The Plaza, the booming art scene and the wide variety of businesses that were headquartered here all helped convince me that Kansas City was the place to go.
We bought a newspaper for the Want Ads on Sunday. (Yes, back in those days that is how we bought and sold things, even companies!)
There was an ad for a small printer that seemed too good to be true.
It turned out there was a reason for that. The owner was going to jail for counterfeiting and he had to report to Leavenworth in 2 weeks.
We went home, quit our jobs, packed everything we owned on a truck and moved here not knowing anyone in Kansas City, but so hopeful for our future.
A New Printing Concept
We had a different concept that we knew would be successful in Kansas City. At that time, there were only quick printers and very large printing companies. No one was doing high quality, short-run color, which I knew agencies were interested in.
I picked up the Yellow Pages and started calling advertising agencies – starting with ‘A’ and working my way down. We joked the first year all of our clients were ‘A’ through ‘M’ because that was as far as I got before we got really busy.
I have to mention that after Bones got out of Leavenworth (his nickname they gave him there because he tended to the graveyard) he came back and worked for us for over 10 years. He was one of the best employees that we ever had, a true craftsman and nice guy.
Sometimes, something wonderful comes out of something bad. We believe in second chances. And we’re really glad that we chose Kansas City all those years ago.